KALAMAZOO, MI — The Traverse City Pit Spitters celebrated their Great Lakes East first-half division title pregame by dousing their manager Josh Rebandt in energy drinks. They came out in the top of the first with energized bats, scoring two runs on three hits. But that would be the last fun TC would have on Monday night. The Growlers dominated the next eight and a half innings of baseball en route to an 18-2 victory, beginning July 4-1 and building momentum for a second-half push.
Kalamazoo immediately attacked Pit Spitters starter Rylan Tinsley. Brooks Coetzee (2-5, 3 R) walked, Luke Storm (1-4, 2 BB, 3 R) singled and Damon Lux (2-4, BB, 3 R) knocked in Coetzee. David Coppedge hit a sac fly, one of his three RBIs on the day. Then Jake Gelof stepped to the dish.
Gelof began the season 2-8, showcasing some solid pop, but also struck out three times. However, against the Pit Spitters, he displayed the swing that elevated him into the Virginia starting lineup. Gelof hit four collegiate home runs, all in postseason play. He touched the halfway point of his UVA season total by the fourth inning. In the first, he took a Tinsley offering to the field-level seats in right, the only opposite-field home run hit at Homer Stryker so far. That capped off a five-run first for Kalamazoo, and it wouldn’t be the last.
In the second, Kalamazoo tacked on three; Storm walked and Nolan McCarthy hit a no-doubter into the weeds behind left field. Then, TJ Williams singled home Coppedge. Tinsley’s day was done, giving up eight runs through two innings and leaving with the loss. The next time around, the Growlers got it started with another bomb, this time a Brett Barrera solo shot to left. KZoo put up four more runs in that inning, as Coetzee scored on an error, then Gelof hit his second homer of the day, a line drive that snuck over the low fence in left. Gelof reached base in all five plate appearances, adding a single and two walks to his line, and was named Northwoods League Player of the Night for his performance.
The game largely settled down after the third, as first-time starter Nate Fleischli settled in. After the two-spot in the top of the first, the Stanford product held the Pit Spitters to just one hit through his next five innings. Taylor Perrett came in and tossed three scoreless to wrap up the contest.
However, the Growlers offense wasn’t done, putting an exclamation point on the contest with another five run frame. Coetzee led off the seventh with a double, four of the next five batters walked, scoring two more, and Devin Burkes got in on the action with a two-RBI single. That ran the final tally up to 18 Kalamazoo runs.
The Growlers head to Kokomo tomorrow for a two-game series with the Jackrabbits. First pitch